I'm no Nick Hornby, sitting in my bedroom making up lists of my favourite songs or artists, but if I had to really, really think about it, then the Pixies would probably be in my top three bands of all time list.
I think it's probably safe to say that they fall into the 'world's most influential rock bands that didn't play on Top of the Pops or Radio 1' category. Thom Yorke worshipped them, and Kurt Cobain admitted to trying to rip off the Pixies when he wrote Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Els, my best friend at the time, & I saw them play at The Reading Festival in August 1990. Stuck in the middle of the mosh pit, perched on the shoulders of two guys we had just met, we were deliriously happy, in that carefree yet slightly scared teenage way and it remains one of those caught in amber moments for me.
They were hot off the success of their second album Doolittle, and the amped up, grubby indie pre 'festivals are hip' crowd couldn't get enough of them. (The version of Debaser that they played that day has gone down in fan history.) Although Surfer Rosa, their first album has both the glorious Gigantic AND Where is My Mind?, it's Doolittle, that will always be thought of as the seminal Pixies album, a masterpiece, and to see them play it live was, well, awwwwwwesome.
I know every word to every song the Pixies wrote, and when I read this review in The Times today of their four night residency at London's Brixton Academy, where they are playing Doolittle in its entirety, I ground my teeth with frustration that I couldn't be there. (Mind you, the tickets sold out in 20 minutes.)
For neophytes try these songs on Pandora (US) or Spotify (UK): Wave of Mutilation, Debaser, Monkey Gone to Heaven.